Judges collect to honour York lawyer

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DOZENS of judges past and present attended York Crown Court virtually to hear tributes to the first leader of the city’s only barrister chambers.

Judge Simon Hawkesworth QC, sat in judgement from 1999 to his retirement in 2011 after a “stellar” career as a barrister that included nine years as head of York Chambers.

“He was a much loved judge, he was fair, he was courteous and he was just,” said the Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris.

He was flanked by Judge Simon Hickey in Courtroom One of York Crown Court.

“We have all been deprived of the company of a powerful intellect, of a Bon Vivant, and a much loved husband, father of four proud boys and a friend.

“His memory will be cherished by all.”

Judge Hawkesworth’s widow May was in court to hear the tributes.

Among about 60 people listening through an online link from different parts of England were other members of Judge Hawkesworth’s family, including his brother Judge Gareth Hawkesworth, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl, Judge Peter Collier QC, Judge Stephen Ashurst and Judge Andrew Stubbs QC, High Court and circuit judges past and present and barristers.

Called to the Bar in 1967, Judge Hawkesworth specialised in civil law during his years as a barrister and represented many families during the 1987 Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry.

He headed York Chambers from its foundation in 1990 until he became a circuit judge in 1999.

Its current head of chambers, John Elvidge QC, said: “He developed a stellar practice” with a “nationwide reputation”.

“Thanks to his example and leadership, his chambers thrived and many of us are grateful for his encouragement.”

York Chambers merged with a Newcastle chambers to form Dere Street Chambers in 2011.